OCCASIONED BY THE
DEATH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
PREACHED AT COXSACKXE,
ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 1865.
J. MUNSELL, 78 STATE STREET.
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OCCASIONED BY THE
DEATH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
PREACHED AT COXSACKEE,
ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 1865,
J. MUNSELL, 78 STATE STREET.
Coxsackie, April 20, 1865.
We, tlie undersigned, citizens of Coxsackie, respectfully request
you to prepare and furnish a copy of your discourse delivered at the
Methodist Episcopal Church, on Wednesday, April 19th, 1865, on the
death of Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States, for
Very respectfully yours,
Stephen P. Hallock,
James W. Hiserel,
F. C. Dedrick,
N. C. Bedell,
E. O. Beatty.
B. F. Beatty,
James E. Greene,
Simpson S. Bell,
J. B. Bronk,
S. A. Dwight,
H. D. Bedell,
J. T. Bedell,
F. S. Greene,
R. E. Buckbee,
Casper I. Collier.
Wednesday, April 21, 1865.
Gentlemen : — The hurried preparation of the discourse, to which
you refer, would lead me to withhold it from publication ; still, I do
not feel at liberty to refuse your request from the earnest desire I
have to do all that is possible to honor the memory of our lamented
President — all that I can to have the people feel and understand the
solemn duties of the hour.
I am, most respectfully yours,
As appropriately expressing the sad, calamitous
event that has called us together — and also expressing
our circumstances and feelings as a nation, we have
selected the following Scriptures for our text:
II Samuel i, 19. — The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high
places : how are the mighty fallen ;
II Samuel xix, 2. — And the victory that day was turned into
mourning unto all the people.
We have congregated with an assembled nation, to
attend the funeral of the chief magistrate of the United
States. Probably such a day of grief — of vast assem-
blages and bitter mourning as this, was never seen
before in the annals of time. It is no ordinary event
that moves a continent, that bows millions in tears,
but to day the Great Republic is bereaved, and its
mourning has all the elements of sublimity.
Nations have often buried their rulers : gilded hatch-
ments have often graced the royal hearse: the marble
tomb which pride and ambition has prepared, has often
been unsealed to receive the great, the kingly and the
wise; for Death, whose mission is, "to tread out
empire and to quench the stars, " with equal pace and
power knocks at the palace and the cottage.
Bat when did millions bow in mourning as they bow
to-day ? "When before has friend and foe, sire and son,
freeman and bondman, rich and poor, lofty and lowly,
struck hands in companionship of sorrow, and joined
in a concert of tears.
Our soldiers on the field of battle,
Our heroes on the main,
The merchant prince and negro chattel,
All swell the sad refrain :
"Man of the millions, thou art lost too soon !"
Sine 3 last Friday night, so far and fast as the tid-
ings of the more than regicide have flashed upon the
telegraphic wires, there has been in every heart and
upon every tongue but one theme ; and to-day,
throughout our land, from the lakes to the gulf, from"
granite ISTew England to the prairied west, from the At-
lantic to the Mississippi : in one grand, mournful,
weeping procession — the nation follows the mangled
form and gloomy hearse of Abraham Lincoln. Unex-
pected, sudden as a bolt from a clear sky, the nimble
lightning flashed the sad news, the awful story of the
assassination of our President. We are, and have
been for days, a saddened, bewildered, terrified people !
Certainly no event ever transpired in the United
States that has subdued and bereaved so many hearts,
caused so many groans of anguish, cast upon our land
such a shower of tears.
Suddenly, like the gloom of the dark day of 1780,
when the sun was blotted out, and night came at noon,
a pall of darkness has fallen over all our land; and
God looks upon a stricken, afflicted people — such
sorrowing as he never saw occasioned by the death of
any Hebrew or Gentile ruler before.
Can it be possible, that he upon whom rested the
confidence and hopes of the nation in this hour of
bitter trial — is gone !
. One day along the electric wire
His words of love and mercy sped;
We came next morn : that tongue of fire
Said only, ."He who spake is dead."
Dead ! while his voice was living yet,
In echoes round the pillared dome!
Dead! while his blotted page lay wet
With themes of state and loves of home !
Dead! he so great, and strong, and wise,
While the mean thousands yet draw breath;
How deepened, through that dread surprise,
The mystery and the awe of Death !
Through him we hoped to speak the word
Which wins the freedom of a land!
And lift for human right, the sword
Which dropped from Hampden's dying hand.
We seemed to see our flag unfurled,
Our champion waiting in his place
For the last battle of the world —
The Armageddon of the race. * * * *
We sweep the land from hill to strand,
We seek the strong, the wise, the brave,
And, sad of heart, return to stand
In silence by a new made grave !
The world at large will mourn with us. The good,
the brave, the liberty loving — those who desire the
elevation and happiness of our race, will feel they have
lost a brother and a friend. The enthralled of Italy
and Hungary — ithe oppressed of every land — will
mourn: for one who loved mankind and labored for
universal freedom, has fallen !
A few days ago the land was filled with joy; a series
of brilliant victories crowned the efforts of the Federal
armies. You remember with what breathless anxiety
we waited to hear from Shekman; he reported at last,
and his bulletin was the record of a triumph. "We
paused a moment, feeling that the crisis of our nation
and the war had come; then the "On to Eichmond"
of four years ago — now the more sublime — " On to
Freedom,'" was consummated, and the old flag, un-
stained with wrong, but battle-torn, waved proudly
from the defiant ramparts of Riclrmoncl — dropping
bread and mercy from its ample folds. upon the guilty,
We had hardly time to express our loyal joy, when
there came the tidings that our modest, peerless
Grant, had received the sword of Robert E. Lee and
the surrender of the grand army of the rebellion.
The land was filled with joy. It was a complete con-
trast to April, 1861, when the flag of the Republic
trailed in the dust, and traitors were jubilant; the
starry banner was waving in victorious triumph —
cannon were uttering cheering salvos — drum and fife
and bugle, were uttering prophesies of peace and
national integrity. The hearts of millions were beat-
ing high with hope as they looked upon the dark folds
of the storm-cloud of battle, rolling slowly away,
fringed with amber and gold, giving promise in its
bow of beauty that the bloody tempest of treason
was spent and that we should soon enjoy the calm of
national peace and fraternity. There was thankful-
ness to almighty God, and the pure offerings of praise
ascended from hill top and valley from hamlet and
city; even ]STew York felt the joyous Pentacost, and
"Wall St. spake in unknown tongues," as there
swelled amid her Mammon temples the grand old
Doxology — the " Te Deum" of a nation's deliverance.
There was no indulging in feelings of vengeance, no
gloating in gladness over the sorrows and chagrin of
a fallen foe; but disposed to let "the lifted thunder of
justice drop," extend the hand of mercy and love,
the people temperately rejoiced. It was not a Roman
saturnalia; but a patriotic, Christian jubilee.
But alas, how changed ! .Now, grief and indignation,
soreness of heart and vengeance of purpose, are blend-
ed in the American mind : and as we survey our na-
tion to day we look upon " a sea of glass mingled with
fire." The victorious flag droops in mourning,
drums are muffled, songs of gladness have suddenly
ceased ; and throughout the land, there is mourning
for the dead. Strong men weep as they never wept
before, hopeful men sigh, good men pray and look to
God for strength, loyal men are appalled, the bitter
partizan is a contrite mourner, none but heartless trait-
tors can rejoice. Truly, " in the day of victory the
Why this intense and bitter feeling of sadness ?
Not because death is so strange — we are familiar with
its bereavements. Earth is a wilderness of graves,
and all mankind are marching to the tomb. During
the last four years Death has held carnival ; noblest
bravest lives have been sacrificed, the bloom and ripe-
ness of our land has fallen.
Neither is it simply because our Chief Magistrate
is dead. This not a new experience for the nation.
Twice before has Death entered the White House.
We are not without a ruler; already the mantle o
office has fallen upon one worthy to be the servant
and representative of the American people. Yet we
feel we have lost the man, who above all others is need-
ed in this time of national peril. The man who above
all others seemed chosen of God to lead us through the
Red Sea of rebellion, and guide" us to the promised
land of liberty and peace.
But this is not all ; there are noble, devoted patriots
that we can trust; but alas! we stand in the presence
of a mangled corse I Our ears tingle with the tidings
of a most foul assassination ! We have pressed upon
our attention an awful crime. Our Chief Magistrate
has fallen a victim — basely, cruelly murdered! Shall
we be safe? Shall our roof-trees blaze, our hearth
stones run with blood ?
The most sacred person in the nation has fallen by
the hand of a ruffian ! No wonder the heart strings
of the nation vibrate with strange agony. This is
something new. This is a sad, bitter lesson for the
Republic. We are reminded of the blood}^, stormy
days of Rome; when the dagger controlled affairs of
State, and Anarchy was on the throne.
But why does this murder so deeply affect us ? It
does affect us most peculiarly. When we heard the
news of this assassination, we felt humbled — subdued
in spirit. There was a feeling of oppressive sadness,
loneliness. We have been proud of the name Amer-
ican, and as we have looked upon that starry banner,
now draped in mourning, we have rejoiced in its short
but glorious history; felt that more sacred truth and
principle were symbolized in that bunting, than in any
other national ensign. Beneath it stood Washington
and the Spirit of Libeiiw, and we were hopeful, that
soon, wherever it floated, all should be free.
Murders have occurred before. We know that
wicked men will do wickedly. Men have often been
murdered for their money, been murdered to gratify
the spirit of revenge, because of enmity and ambition;
but none of these motives led to the base deed that
has plunged the nation in the deepest sorrow.
One thing the assassin has gained — an immortality
of infamy, by striking clown "the foremost man of all
the world. " But let me plainly state if I can the mean-
ing and terror of this deed of blood. Let me state my
feelings and convictions. Let me discharge my duty
in this solemn hour.
We have come together, as mourners, to show our
respect for the departed — without reference to relig-
ious sect, or political party. Far be it from me to utter
a word to injure the feelings of any loyal man; as to
traitors, God forbid that I should please them; but I
would withhold no word that condemns national
iniquity, that would have a tendency to convict, and
convert from political wrong, from organic wickedness.
Standing before God, the judge of nations, and in the
presence of the mangled form of our late President, it
is a time for plain speaking, for repentance, for the
rebuking of sin, for patriotism and fraternity. Let
citizens be brothers. Let Americans be united, let
them heed the farewell words that trembled from the
lips of Washington, as they bend over the remains of
We shall mention four things as points of interest .
and instruction. First, The sad event.
" How are the mighty fallen I"
This was the language of David when the tidings
came of the death of Saul and Jonathan. Inspired
genius never uttered a more eloquent eulogium, a more
tender and touching tribute to departed greatness, than
he pronounced on that occasion. Indeed, he seems to
eclipse himself in this impassioned funeral ode.
In this noble panegyric, we are led to admire the
spirit of David.
Unambitious, forgiving, he seems more good than
great. We scarcely know which to admire most, his
loving heart or his princely intellect. Irresistible
with his sword, sweeping the harp with a master's
hand, unrivalled as poet and king, his greatness is only
equalled by his goodness, while his virtues outshine his
You should remember that the only obstacle
between David and the throne was removed by the
death of Saul. The fallen king had treated him with
the utmost cruelty for years, seeking his life with
relentless hatred. A price had been set upon his head,
and he had been " hunted like a partridge in the moun-
tains." Yet forgetful of self he buries the wrongs he
has suffered, in the grave of Saul. Instead of hailing
as a friend the stranger who brings the bracelet
and crown of the murdered king, he treats him as a
regicide and orders his immediate execution. He had
lifted his hand against the head of a government.
Saul was the Lord's anointed. His person was sacred.
ISTo more sacred, however, in the estimation of Hea-
ven, than the person of Abraham Lincoln. As we
have said, the assassin in this case is more than a regi-
cide ; his crime greater if possible than though he
had slain a king. It seems to me that no one who
stands at the head of a nation as ruler, can be more
truly the Lord's anointed, so far as government is
concerned, than the President of the United States.
This responsible position is not the accident of birth,
it is not the inheritance of family, it is the gift of the
jjeople "Whoever fills this high office as the choice of
the nation is sacred to us, because almost alone among
the nations, God has given us this right of election.
This high privilege has been secured to us by suffer-
ing, sacrifice and blood. It cost the patriotism of '76
— which was not a parlor, or shoulder-strap patriot-
ism merely, but that practical devotion to country
that pledged life and fortune and sacred honor to the
cause of freedom, and sanctified the battle fields of the
Revolution with the best blood of our race. And no
person can be more sacred in view of cost and princi-
ple, sacrifice and freedom, than our Chief Magistrate.
We have often been told he was in danger. Still
we could not believe there was anything serious in the
cowardly threats that were uttered by the friends ot
the rebellion. Four years ago — we speak it with
shame, to save his life he fled through darkness to
Washington, and the plot of assassination was foiled.
He has been spared until the comparatively unknown
man has acquired a world-wide fame. Spared, until
he has won the respect and love and confidence of
millions. Spared, during the darkness of the night,
he has died in the morning. But in the dawn for
which he looked and longed and prayed: while its
mellow tints were flushing the sky, the murderous
blow has fallen. The words of the assassin, — "Sic
semper tyrannis" — find no response in the heart of
suffering humanity. No tyrant ever had such a
funeral, such a mourning as the world decrees for
Lincoln. A tyrant! He was the embodiment of
American sentiment, of the liberty-loving spirit of our
age; he was the representative in principle and action,
of the people.
The murderous blow that shattered the casket of
his noble soul was not aimed at him alone, but at us,
at Americans, at the loyal, liberty-loving masses, at
all who desire the welfare of our government, the
stability of our nation. The words of the assassin
were the wolfish howl of anarchy, and his blow was
struck at the dearest interests of mankind. It was
the attempted assassination of the principle of Demo-
cracy, of the rights of the people. The murderer
aimed to shoot a truth, a principle, a law of God;
between him and that truth, that principle, that
law, stood Abraham Lincoln. The ball struck the
President, he was mortal, but principle, truth, right-
eousness are invulnerable — immortal. He alas! was
killed, but not that at which the shot was aimed.
Glory to God forever!
Beyond the despot's will
The soul of freedom liveth
"We will think of thee, brother !
And thy sainted name shall be
In the blessing of the captive,
And the anthem of the free.
Looking over the history of the world, I am often
impressed with the omnipotence of righteousness and
truth. Nothing after all is so secure as the principle
of virtue. It is firmer than the mountains, it is
stronger than any fortress on the land, or iron-clad on
the deep. Virtue, in the bulrush ark, is more secure
than vice in Pharaoh's palace. And though truth has
its martyrs, it is stronger at the stake or on the scaf-
fold, than falsehood in the moated castle, or cannon-
mounted citadel. And this effort to destroy virtue
and national righteousness at "Washington, will im-
press us again, by showing the immutability of justice
We have said the person of our President was
sacred. Reelected by a popular majority of nearly
five hundred thousand, the people had said emphatic,
ally — " well done, good and faithful servant." Again
invested with the authority of his high office, he was,
if possible, doubly sacred to all — save the foul dogs
of a gigantic, cruel and fiendish rebellion ! He and
Wm. H. Seward, were perhaps, more than any other
two, representative men. The people, the Ameri-
can commonwealth, acknowledged their leadership,
rather I should say regarded them as faithful servants.
They were doing the behests of the nation. Hence
it is solemnly, impressively true, the President falls
for the people : for their rights and liberties, their
government and country.
It is an event of awful magnitude. Its influence
will be wide-reaching and far-resounding, like the
terrible judgments of Heaven. It should lead the
American people to humble devotion before God. It
should lead to honesty of purpose, candor of heart.
It should calm the turbulent waters of party strife,
and lead to national repentance. Ail should pause,
review their course, and candidly consider their duty
to the nation and the world. Let the public weal,
let national prosperity, and virtue, and existence, be
more sacred than party. Let us make our political
organizations the conservators of truth and righteou -
ness ; not mere systematized opposition to the govern-
ment. Let partyism, be subject to a pure and lofty
As Christians, let us not permit devotion to party
to blind our eyes so that we cannot see, to fetter our
hands so that we cannot strike for the right, to pad-
lock our lips so that we cannot speak for the truth. I
would not make religion political, but I would make
politics religious. I would not carry party principles
into Christianity, but I would have all party platforms
christianized. The Jesuitical assumption, that we
may do as politicians what we may not do as Chris-
tians is infidelity in its worst form, and will lead to
individual and national perdition. When wrong is
sanctioned in a political platform, when it becomes
organic, it does not cease to be iniquitous ; and as
Christians let us speak trumpet-tongued against all
sin, whether individual or national, whether pertain-
ing to a person or a party.
As Americans, let us cease from party warfare until
the government shall be safe and the integrity of
the nation firmly secured. 0, let us stand for our
country, while traitors are endeavoring to drag us down
to ruin ! Let us stand in the breach of the wall of
our nationality, as the hope of the world, while merci-
less rebellion aims to bury beneath the ruins of our
Republic — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
We cannot mourn over this saddest event of mod-
ern times (unless we shed crocodile tears) without
hating the cause that bereaves the nation of its Chief.
"We cannot reject the fruit without rejecting the tree.
We cannot pronounce the stream impure and bitter
while we declare the fountain sweet and good. When
we sanction a cause we- sanction its effect ; and every
contrite mourner to-day, must abhor not only this foul
crime, but its origin. This leads me to notice — Sec-
ondly: The cause of this event.
It was not because of personal enmity the President
was assassinated. Spot because he had been guilty of
insulting or injuring any man. Not because he had
been overbearing, harsh, or in any manner tyranni-
cal. There was no kinder man in the nation. He
had a smile and a good word for all. He had tears
to shed for the suffering, and time amid the most
arduous labors of office to write letters full of sym-
pathy and consolation to those who mourned the loss
of friends and children on the battle-field. While
sternly, honestly discharging his official duties, his
great, tender heart bled for those who shared the
perils of war. His honesty of purpose and sincerity
of life made him unsuspicious, and though repeatedly
warned, he could not believe he was in any danger.
Panoplied in kindness and love, he felt safe as though
clad in triple steel. Forbearance has been noticed
as a peculiar trait of his character, and seldom has this
virtue shone forth more conspicuously than it did in
him. His executive clemency has sometimes offended
his friends. They have feared that his gentleness
might interfere with the true administration of justice.
Repeatedly has he exercised his right to extend mercy
to those under sentence of death, or imprisonment:
and sometimes in such a manner as to show the
utmost kindness of heart. Abused, insulted, traduced,
defied, as no other President has been: when did he
use his great power to gratify feelings of anger, when
did he manifest the spirit of revenge? You cannot
point to an angry word, to any evidence of irritability,
since his first inauguration. You know how he had
been abused in Richmond by the rebel press and
government. He went down there the other day,
not with vengeance in his heart; he did not go to sow
that guilty city with salt, and hang its traitors; but he
went as a saviour and friend. The active and passive
virtues were strangely, beautifully blended in his
character. He will stand in the memory of the world
among the most forbearing, kindly and gentle, whose
generosity towards the most bitter foes is without a
parallel among sucessful rulers and conquerors.
The London Spectator, in the number for March
25th, thusspeaks of Mr. Lincoln's character. "Find-
ing himself the object of southern abuse, so fierce and
and so foul that in any man less passionless it would
long ago have stirred up an implacable animosity,
mocked at for his official awkwardness, and denounced
for his steadfast policy by all the democratic section
of the loyal states, tried by years of failure before that
policy achieved a single great success, further tried by
a series of successes so rapid and so brilliant that they
would have puffed up a smaller mind and overset its
balance, embarrassed by the boastfulness of his people
and of his subordinates, no less than by his own inex-
perience in his relations with foreign states, beset by
fanatics of principle on one side who would pay no
attention to his obligations as a constitutional ruler,
and by fanatics of caste on the other, who were not only
deaf to the claims of justice, but would hear of no pol-
icy large enough for a revolutionary emergency, Mr.
Lincoln has persevered through all, without ever
giving way to anger, or despondency, or exultation, or
popular arrogance, or sectarian fanaticism, or caste
prejudice, visibly growing in force of character, in
self-possession, and in magnanimity, till in his last